Leica Users: Rigid 50/2 Summicron or Nikkor 50/1.4 Sonnar?
I have an early 50/1.4 Nikkor in LTM that I've
been shooting off and on with an M3. It's a
Sonnar design, supposedly optimized for work
close in and wide open -- what I typically do.
For illustration, I've posted a sample from my
Nikkor (at f/2) here in the APUG forums:
I've been told that I should consider using a
rigid Summicron on the camera. Okay: But
might I expect the Summicron to compare to
Apologies if this has already been discussed
For portraits, I shoot them both !
The mid '50s Summicron lacks the hot Sonnar look,
and has an across the field clarity. Wide open, it hints at soft tonality.
If I want to draw peach fuzz on a young cheeks, the Nikkor.
Lighting falling on the contours of a ... more mature beauty, Summicron.
Subtle, subtle, subtle. A lot like a mid '50s Planar on your Rollei.
The only way to tell for sure is to shoot them side by side.
The Summicron is lower contrast, will not look as sharp. It will preserve more shadow detail.
If you can find a collapsible Summicron in good condition, also look at it. Cost about 1/3 less than a Rigid. Not quite as sharp, but close.
Some shots with my Collapsible and Type I Rigid Summicron on the Leica forum, here:
Hopefully you can see the images. If not, register for free and then you can view them.
I agree a collapsable Summicron will not be as sharp as a current rigid Summicron but I would say, as someone who has used both and owns a 50mm Summicron current model that the 50mm Summicron is far sharper than a 50mm 1.4 Nikkor. In fact you would need to be careful using a 50mm Summicron for sensitive portraits of the fairer sex, they my not thank you for it's searching images
Originally Posted by lens_hacker
Last edited by kennethcooke; 10-27-2008 at 03:20 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Sharpness is a Bourgeois Concept"-H.Cartier-Bresson
There are a number of variations in the Summicron. The original Collapsible used Thorium glass, then moved to something less radioactive. The Collapsible, Type I Rigid, and Dual-Range Summicron where 7 elements in 6 groups. Lower contrast, high resolution. The Type 2 Rigid went to 6 elements in 5 groups, a bit higher contrast than the older ones. Finally, the Summicrons went to 6 elements in 4 groups- Same as the 1930s Summar. It is higher contrast, probably sharper. But many users prefer the "look" of the older glass.
Type 2 Rigid Summicron, wide-open on the M2:
Price-wise, the Collapsible Summicron and Type 2 Summicron can be had in the $300~$400 range for a nice one. The Type 1 Rigid goes for a bit more, and the recent ones are in the $1000 and above range.
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Thanks, all, for the observations.
Don suggests the Nikkor is the
sharper, Kenneth gives the nod
to the Summicrons.
I guess, in the end, I like the look
of the negatives from the Nikkor
and so I should leave well enough
alone and focus my efforts on
shooting, not equipment. I just
wish it were more compact.
Talking about sharpness really is pretty counterproductive since the word really has no meaning.
Acutance, resolution, sure.
Intuitively, there IS a distinction,
and THAT is pretty subjective. Unless you, Kenneth, and I know each other,
there isn't much useful information we can share.
(I actually think that the two lenses aren't comparable,
yet they are complimentary !)
Sometime, borrow / rent an old Summicron, give it a spin.
Then, you tell US !
In the meantime, SHOOT those pictures.
Don, fair enough.
When you say the lenses aren't comparable,
but complementary, that is the beginning of
what I was trying to fathom in this thread --
how do the two lenses differ? And I was
grateful to have your thoughts on that. But
you are right, that subtleties of lens performance
being what they are, language often fails to
provide a satisfactory medium for the explanation.
And scans of negatives viewed on a computer
screen do very little to illuminate.
I have always questioned Dante Stella's comments that the Nikon RF 50/1.4 was "optimized" for up close shooting.... In all my years of reading and camera collecting - I have never heard that comment elsewhere. While I understand Nikon allowed the lens to focus closer than normal, it was uncoupled from the Rangefinder camera's focusing ability - so I am not sure that argument stands up. Any know more about this ?
Nikon RF Page http://members.aol.com/dcolucci/nik.htm
Leica SM Page http://members.aol.com/dcolucci/c.htm
I prefer the bokeh of the Summicron ( knew an old fisherman with that name- couldn't swim but was lucky enough to fade away naturally.)
Originally Posted by df cardwell